How about kids birthday parties, hmm? They're quite a thing, right? So many ways to approach them. I feel like I've seen them all, but I'm sure I haven't. No matter what, kids birthday parties mean toys, either as gifts or favors.
In a small space, kids toys are a huge problem. Because everyone is so kind. It is kind that they want to give great toys to your kids, and some are definitely worth keeping (planning an awesome toys list for a future post), but it is easy to accumulate too many.
When we have birthday parties for the boys we throw in a (hopefully) tactful reminder in the invitation that we don't have much space, so either don't bring a gift or bring something small and/or disposable or intangible. We have many amazing friends who have come up with awesome gifts-- movie, theater, zoo, and sporting events tickets, gift cards for everything from ice cream to burritos to pancakes to iTunes. They've given the boys bubbles and sidewalk chalk, kites, books, throw-down baseball bases, and paper airplane kits and little games that fold up really small. It is fun for us to try to include the gift-givers in the experience, whenever possible-- have them come to the movie with you or have ice cream with you or fly kites with you.
I like to think that finding gifts for our boys has been enriching and pleasantly challenging for the givers, not just obnoxious and taxing. Definitely not as easy as walking into Target and grabbing something right off a shelf, but maybe meaningful? Fingers crossed.
It is a little awkward to make this kind of request to potential gift-givers, but would you rather use gift cards and take four happy little boys and a bucket of popcorn to a movie, or get a giant plastic stomping dinosaur and then give it away in a few weeks because you don't have room? Then you have to encounter the awkward silence at your home the next time they come and don't see the toy they gave you. It's a no-brainer.
If you don't head 'em off before they give you a big gift, especially one that the kids don't even play with often, there is always the (cringe) re-gifting option, or the keeping it for a few weeks and then donating or giving it away option. We also happen to have a grandparents' basement where many of our toys end up.
We're truly completely happy with a simple birthday card, I promise, we just have awesome friends and family who have spoiled us with their thoughtfulness.
On the receiving side-- after going to kids birthday parties, most favors and goodie bags stay 1-24 hours at our house and disappear after that. It's amazing how quickly they forget about the tiny little stuff that is so cool and thematic and painful to step on and look at. To be honest, I do put the stickers in our stickers bucket and sometimes the little figures are granted access to our plastic pretzel tub of awesome figures (which has a tightly screwed-on lid).
It might not be pretty and might not even be nice...but those are the ways we handle party loot here in the Nutshell.
Have a beautiful, spring Wednesday!